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Tradition and creativity in Festival of Trees

Allison Duffield and her son Charlie Duffield with friend Brett Caswell check out the Festival of Trees. Erin Plummer. (click for larger version)
December 08, 2010
CENTER HARBOR — Waukewan Golf Club contained a forest of bright, colorful, and sometimes whimsical Christmas trees for the Meredith Altrusa Club's annual Festival of Trees.

Organizations, businesses, and individuals and families decorated trees in and gave them to the festival to be put on display with most also going to needy families. The festival opened on Thursday night with a sold-out silent auction and ran through Sunday.

Event co-chair Betsey Raffaele said 50 trees were provided by businesses, organizations, and individuals, 37 of which were for donation to local families in need. Trees will be distributed through the Moultonboro Santa Fund and the Inter-Lakes Christmas Fund as well as items and money donated through Festival of Trees.

Raffaele said people have turned out in numbers to the event. The silent auction on Thursday was sold out for the first time in its history.

"It's been fantastic. We would not be able to do this without the support of this community," Raffaele said. "In a downturn economy the community has turned out to strongly support this event and we ate appreciative to all of them."

Raffale also gave Altrusa's thanks to the Hale family for volunteering Waukewan Golf Club for use by the festival.

This year's festival also marked the first children's event, which took place on Friday night with events such as a reading by local author Karel Hayes. Raffaele said organizers are looking to make the event even bigger next year.

Each tree was decorated for a different theme using traditional, contemporary, and home made ornaments.

The trees included the Friends of the Meredith Library offering "Snowmen at Christmas" with many ornaments of snowmen, scarves, and mittens. The Community Garden Club has a tree with bird ornaments, fruit, and flowers for "Gardener's Delight." Paper trees and snowmen with words of the season, such as "Joy," "Respect," and others, was the theme for Meredith Parks and Recreation's "The Spirit of Christmas" tree.

The Meredith Fire Department Auxiliary contributed "A Little Tree in the Woods," a tree with glowing snowflake lights with silver partridges and silver bead garland. Next to is was "Christmas at Sesame Street" by Baby Threads with ornaments and dolls from "Sesame Street."

Meredith Girl Scout Troop 104357 put together "Christmas in July" with summer themed decorations such as paper pinwheels, sandals made from craft foam, and glass balls filled with sand. The Morrill/MacDonald Families showed their Western themed tree "A Cowboy Christmas: with rope for garland with small bandanas on it and star and cowboy boot ornaments. Meredith Public Health Nursing Association's "A Heart in the Community" tree had gauze for garland, alcohol rub packets for ornaments, and toy medical equipment.

Altrusa had its own trees created by different committees. The Community Service Committee decorated "Children's Dreams" with ornaments and decorations of toys and dolls.

The Literacy Tree "Reading is FUNdamental" was decorated with letter ornaments. Underneath were children's books, some donated and some purchased, and every child who came to the festival was given a book.

The event was a family tradition for many of the visitors.

Allison Duffield of Meredith brought her son Charlie and his friend Brett Caswell to the festival and said her family comes every year and have donated trees in previous years.

"I love the Altrusa Club, what they do is really great," Allison Duffield said.

M.J. Vien of New Hampton brought her mother Kay Rakowski and Rakowski's friend Dorothy Webster.

"I take my mom every year. It kind of starts off our Christmas" Vien said. "It's so nice that people donate these to needy families," Vien said

Vien said she also gets tree-trimming ideas from all the creative trees at the festival

"If you have to pick a nicer tree you couldn't," Webster said.

"It's so great and it gives you the spirit of Christmas," Rakowski said.

Martin Lord Osman
Varney Smith
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